On Nov. 7 Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) reported a strong fourth quarter which capped off a tremendous year for the company. For the third consecutive year in a row, Disney delivered record revenue, net income, and earnings per share. Yet there's more to this global media giant than what meets the eye.
In fact, these five things about Disney may take you by surprise.
1. The sun never sets in the "happiest place on Earth"
You probably know there is a Disneyland in California and a Disney World in Florida. Can you name the other three Disney locations throughout the world? Chances are, you can't.
In addition to the two locations in the US, Disney also holds a 51% interest in Disneyland Paris, a 48% interest in the Hong Kong Disneyland location, and licenses the operations of the Tokyo Resort in Japan. Disney also holds a 43% interest in the Shanghai Disney Resort, slated to open at the end of 2015. Therefore, there are really five "happiest places on Earth" with a sixth coming. As a result of the sprawled out nature of the Disney locations, the sun is always up in at least one of the "happiest places on Earth."
2. Walt Disney never graduated high school
Behind such a prosperous and powerful company like Disney you would expect to find an educated man or woman at the helm. While the company's legendary founder Walt Disney was a genius, he never graduated high school.
As a 16-year-old Walt dropped out to enlist in the army during the First World War. While he was rejected for being underage, he managed to find employment as a ambulance driver for the Red Cross. By the time Disney arrived in France, the armistice agreement had already been signed.
Despite his lack of a high school education, Walt Disney returned to the United States and was able to found his now famous company when he signed a contract with M.J. Winkler to produce a series of Alice comedies. The company Walt created, 90 years later, is valued at nearly $125 billion.
3. If it was up to Walt, Mickey Mouse would be named Mortimer Mouse
What is the first thing you think of when you hear about the Walt Disney Company? If you think of Mickey Mouse, you are just like me. If it was up to Walt, we be thinking about Mortimer Mouse. In fact, in the mouse's first few shorts, he is called Mortimer. Luckily, Walt's wife Lillian Disney eventually convinced Walt that Mickey would be a more marketable name.
I think Mickey Mouse has a much better ring to it and that in the end Walt made the right call, but that is open to debate. Would the company be the same if Walt had stuck to his guns? The world will never know.
4. Disney's interactive segment has never turned an annual profit
In 2008, Disney founded Disney Interactive. This segment is primarily focused on two things: video games and online media. It is best known for Disney.com, Club Penguin, Where's My Water, and Disney Infinity.
From the second this business was put into operation, it has lost money. Between 2008 and 2012, Disney Interactive lost a total of $1.31 billion, never turning a profit on annual basis. 2008-2012 Disney 10-ks
Yet that may be changing as Disney Interactive managed a quarterly profit of $16 million in the most recent quarter. In large part this was due to the strong performance of Disney Infinity, a video game which many claim is Disney's version of Activision's (NASDAQ: ATVI ) widely popular Skylanders series.
5. Disney's stock has more than tripled the return of the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past decade
On a total return basis, which takes dividends into account, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has offered a return of 74.19% over the past decade. Disney's total return during this same time period was more than three times that of the Dow Jones at 236.1%. The majority of this separation came after the Great Recession of 2008, as Disney's stock rebounded much quicker than the blue-chip average.
The Foolish Takeaway
Disney's fourth quarter results were strong, yet hidden just beneath the surface of this global media giant is a complex network which spans the globe.
And while Disney's products and services have been present in so many people's lives for so many years, there will always be new things to learn about this magical company.
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